ISIS-linked murder accused demand a new prosecutor

Sayefudeen Del Vecchio led into the Verulam Magistrate's Court. Picture: File

Sayefudeen Del Vecchio led into the Verulam Magistrate's Court. Picture: File

Published Jan 28, 2024


A GROUP of double murder accused linked to the terrorist group ISIS (Islamic State) have asked the high court in Durban to replace the prosecutor in their long-running trial.

Sayfudeen Aslam Del Vecchio, his wife Bibi Fatima Patel, and Malawian national Mussa Ahmad Jackson, want prosecutor Mahendra Naidu removed from their case.

The three are facing charges of killing UK botanists Rodney and Rachel Saunders in northern KwaZulu-Natal in 2018.

In papers filed in court, the trio argue that there was a different legal standard to the refusal of a judge and a prosecutor, and that the presiding officer hearing the criminal matter should not be sitting in the application to recuse the presiding officer.

Del Vecchio, Patel, and Jackson stated that the case of former president Jacob Zuma’s erstwhile financial advisor and convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik asked whether it is axiomatic that an alleged and later proven irregularity by a prosecutor constitutes an infringement to an accused fair trial rights.

”Can an applicant seek the removal of a prosecutor without a court first declaring, in terms of section 172(1)(a) [of the Constitution], any such conduct inconsistent with the Constitution?” Del Vecchio, Patel and Jackson asked.

The Constitution states that when deciding a constitutional matter within its power, a court must declare that any law or conduct that is inconsistent with the Constitution is invalid to the extent of its inconsistency.

Del Vecchio, Patel, and Jackson’s now-former lawyer, Bulelani Mazomba, said he had withdrawn in the matter.

”There was a conflict of interest between us,” Mazomba said but refused to elaborate.

He said the matter would be in for a new attorney after he withdrew on Monday.

Natasha Ramkisson-Kara, spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority in KwaZulu-Natal, told the Sunday Independent that the application to force Naidu to recuse himself will be opposed.

Meanwhile, it has also emerged that 30 year-old twins Brandon-Lee and Tony-Lee Thulsie forfeited to the state the money they planned to use to skip the country.

National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi applied for and was granted a preservation of property order in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act at the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, according to a notice published earlier this month.

The notice states that the twins’ R17 500 for which they were to use to book tickets to Turkiye through Qatar Airways must be deposited to its bank account in terms of the Proceeds of Crime Act.

”This notice is addressed to Brandon-Lee Thulsie, Tony-Lee Thulsie, and all other persons who have an interest in the below listed property, or property representing such property or the proceeds of such property, namely, the sum of R17 477.16 held in the banking account of Qatar Airways held with the National Westminster Bank Plc ...

“Take notice that the NDPP has obtained a preservation of property order … If you have an interest in the property, you should understand that it is now at risk. You are advised to obtain legal advice on whether your interest can be protected and, if so, on how to protect it,” reads the notice.

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